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Accident Victim Receives California's First Hand Transplant

April 26, 2011
Auto Accident Victim

UCLA Medical Center pulled off this miracle.

The Los Angeles car accident attorneys at our firm regularly monitor medical and healthcare-related developments that impact accident victims.  A Yuba City woman has made history by becoming the first woman in California to receive a complete hand transplant, after losing her own hand in an auto accident.  The surgery was performed at the UCLA Medical Center, and doctors have confirmed that the surgery went off well.

The woman, Emily Fennell lost her hand after she suffered severe hand injuries during a rollover accident.  She was a passenger in a car that flipped over. Her right hand fell through the sunroof and got trapped between the car and the ground.  She was left with serious crushing injuries, and her hand had to be amputated.

At the time, she was the mother of a 14-month-old baby.  Fennel quickly had to learn to get used to doing things with just one hand.  Her family says she coped remarkably well.  She did have a prosthetic hand, but she found it too cumbersome and bulky, and chose not to use it much.  However, she now has to get used to a brand-new hand, which was donated by a deceased donor.

The surgery was performed on the 5th of March, and lasted for several hours.  Typically, a hand transplant surgery can last much longer than a heart transplant surgery which can take up to eight hours.  Doctors first have to fix the bone, and then repair the tendons, arteries, nerves and veins.  This is the first complete hand transplant performed at the UCLA Medical Center.  However, several other such hand transplants have been performed around the country.

Fennel does not have much sensation in her new hand yet, but she’s able to move some fingers.  According to doctors, it takes could take up to a year for her nerves to regenerate.   She has been put through extensive rehabilitation, and is on a massive immunosuppressant drug therapy program, in order to keep the risk of infections away and to prevent the body from rejecting the new limb.  These immunosuppressant drugs will probably have to be taken over the rest of her lifetime.  The body’s natural immune system typically considers the new limb as a pathogen, and tries to eliminate it.  Immunosuppressant drugs suppress the body’s natural immune system to prevent this from happening.  However, it could also mean that the person is left with a weakened immune system that leaves him or her susceptible to infections.

Over a period of time, doctors expect Fennell to regain as much as 60% of the function of her other hand.  Obviously, she will never have the same kind of strength in this hand that she used to in her old hand.  However, she should be able to perform a lot of routine functions, play some sports, and type, which is a major improvement.

The Reeves Law Group is not representing any party in the matters discussed in this posting.

Posted by Robert Reeves at 3:36 pm - no comments
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